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Book Review: The 4 Hour Workweek

by Celine on April 2nd, 2008

Photo Credit: Image from Devin Murphy from Wkipedia


I’ve recently read “The 4 Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, and I thought it might be a good idea to review it for Pimp Your Work. The title itself, “The 4 Hour Workweek” seems like a bold claim.  If you’ve already read it, please share your own opinions of the book in the comments.  If you haven’t read the book, feel free to go over my review to see if it’s for you.

The introduction has 3 parts including an FAQ and Tim’s personal story.  In the FAQ you’ll learn if the book applies to you, and it does answer a lot of the initial questions that most readers have when picking up the book.  No, you don’t need to be a risk taker, you don’t need to quit your job, and there are no age, status, or educational requirements.  

In the first chapter, Ferriss compares the New Rich, those who abandon the “regular” life plan and create luxury lifestyles, from the Deferrers, those who wait until the end to fully live their lives.  You can read an excerpt from this chapter here (scroll to the bottom, past the video).  The excerpt chapter in the link is probably one of my favorite parts of the book.  It has certainly helped me define my goals more clearly.  Basically, this chapter is all about being more precise in the wording of our goals and to define why we have those goals in the first place.

Ferriss also talks heavily about rules.  How we should challenge our own assumptions and the rules set out before us.  One of those assumptions has to do with retirement.  Throughout the book, Ferriss displays that he doesn’t really believe in the conventional definition of retirement.  For him, it’s a last resort scenario for when you’re too weak to work.  Also, if you’re looking forward to retirement, this means that you’re not that much fulfilled with what you are doing and you’re wasting the strongest, most active years of your life working at a job that you don’t really enjoy.

The book also has important insights on redefining money.  Money isn’t just about the numbers.  Nor is it the answer to our problems.  Sometimes, he points out, when postponing our goals by saying “Someday, when I have more money…” part of us is saying that out of laziness.  Ferriss also has an interesting definition of income.  If absolute income is just about the numbers, relative income is about leveraging both money and time.  It’s not how much you earn per year or per hour, it’s about how much you earn per hour of work.  For example, if both Beth and Bob earn $10,000 per month, but Beth works 4 hours per day and Bob works 8 hours per day, who is really richer?  Beth, of course, since she earns more per hour and has enough time to do the things she wants to do.

Ferriss discusses  eliminating the non-essential parts of our daily lives - including menial tasks that don’t really help us get anywhere and also over-information.  Ferriss often mentions this, even in interviews, about how we should forget about the trivial many and pay attention only to the critical few.  He also offers a lot of practical advice to prevent time-wasters from entering into your routine.

Other themes explored thoroughly in this book include outsourcing, setting up a business for automatic income, and creating a list of short term goals that Ferriss calls “dreamlining”.  He also devotes an entire chapter on “mini-retirements” - long vacations that you can take to reward yourself every once in a while (as opposed to one long retirement after your working life).

Now, off to the good and bad points of the book:

Bad points:

  •  Sometimes the voice of the book is filled with hype.  It’s a bit of a turnoff, since it makes the idea of “The 4 Hour Workweek” look like a scam.
  • I feel like Ferriss is trying to discuss too many topics  in one book.  It’s a good starting point if you want to redesign your lifestyle, but a lot of supplementary reading/research is needed - especially the part where you need to start your own business.
  • Too many anecdotes.  Now, I enjoyed the first few ones, but I preferred the “meat” of the book to the personal stories of other people who are (or aren’t) living the lives of the New Rich.
  • I live in a 3rd world country, and many of his suggestions aren’t really valid here.  I guess not all his ideas can be applied globally, but at the very least you’ll be thinking outside the box to design your own lifestyle.

Good points: 

  • Most of the ideas I strongly agree with, such as avoiding “work for work’s sake” (aka work you don’t even enjoy), guarding against distractions and over-information, and his general ideas about income.  Plus, I’m a big fan of thinking outside the box.
  • The flow of the book is very logical - it’s almost step by step.  Plus, it includes a lot of Q&A portions and challenges that allow you to implement some of the ideas as you read the book.
  • I’ve actually implemented some of his suggestions to my life and guess what - it works.  Well, for me, that is.  I’d love to hear the stories of other readers.
  • There’s a lot of bonus material you can access, including online.

To buy or not to buy?  This book is for you if you’re not happy with your current job or if you feel like you’ve been postponing your true dreams and goals your entire life.  It’s also a good wake-up call for people who don’t really think about where their personal lives are going because they’re too focused on their career.  However, if you feel like you’re already doing the things you’d love to do - then you’re probably already living the lifestyle of the New Rich.  You can go over to Tim Ferriss’ personal blog and the resources listed below to see if it’s the right book for you.

Additional Resources:

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POSTED IN: Books, Staying Sane, Survival Skills, Worklife Balance, Workplace Wellness

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